Ford is among the most advanced companies when it comes to testing technology. Their latest mobile aeroacoustic wind tunnel is a world first and allows for sources of unwanted wind noise in early production vehicles to be identified faster and solutions developed sooner.
This way, customers drive away in cars designed with a quiet interior that’s so essential to delivering a refined vehicle experience. Ford’s new wind tunnel debuts at Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan – joining a growing fleet of mobile testing facilities including three environmental evaluation chambers.
With an on-site wind noise facility, Ford factories can pull more sample vehicles directly from the line and test them with no delay – eliminating the time and complexity of shipping vehicles back and forth across the country. Issues requiring assembly process refinement can be detected and resolved earlier, since everybody involved is on hand.
Similar in concept to a full-scale wind tunnel laboratory, the heart of the mobile facility is built inside two 53-foot shipping containers. Each includes aeroacoustic vanes and internal ducting to provide smooth, controlled airflow at the nozzle end of the machine, while two 16-bladed, six-foot-diameter ducted fans – each powered by a 250-horsepower electric motor – deliver a maximum blast of 80-mph wind. A series of doors around the containers ensure the sections remain secure during transport or storage.
The machine consists of the two main containers fastened together side by side on flat, level tarmac. In between, two roll-up doors are lifted, while doors on the front and back ends are opened to create the air intake and outlet nozzle. A third, 40-foot container – housing a small office, power distribution and controls – is placed nearby, and data and power cabling are connected between the containers.